Benedict Cumberbatch and the joy in playing the villain
The Times’ Gina McIntyre recently sat down with rising star Benedict Cumberbatch to discuss his sudden ascendance and his role in his first major blockbuster, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Though the film debuted last week, we won’t spoil Cumberbatch’s long-hidden role (how long the secret remained hidden surprised even him). But he has won acclaim for his performance in the film.
As put by New York Times critic A.O. Scott:
“Mr. Cumberbatch, pale and intense, has become the object of a global fan cult, and it’s easy to see why. He fuses Byronic charisma with an impatient, imperious intelligence that seems to raise the ambient I.Q. whenever he’s on screen.”
And, as one would imagine, that “fan cult” extends to Tumblr.
For the full chat with Cumberbatch, head over to Hero Complex.
Photos: Jennifer S. Altman, Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times, Zade Rosenthal / Paramount Pictures
What does it take to re-invent Disney animation?
After years of being overshadowed by Pixar’s films, Disney’s animation wing is slowly building momentum with two upcoming films: 2014’s Marvel adaptation “Big Hero 6,” and the fairy tale musical “Frozen,” (concept art for both can be seen above), and successful releases like “Wreck-It Ralph” and the short “Paperman.”
And though Pixar may have received the lion’s share of attention, Disney animation is taking several cues from the creators of “Toy Story,” and “Finding Nemo,” who were brought into the Disney fold in 2006.
The new team instituted management practices that had worked at their pioneering Emeryville, Calif, start-up. They launched a “story trust” of directors who consult on one anothers’ projects, rebooted a defunct short film program to spur innovation and eliminated layers of executives a filmmaker needed to hurdle to get to the studio chief.
Perhaps most significantly, they told artists and animators accustomed to a studio-wide culture of avoiding risk that failure was an inevitable part of trying something new.
Read the full story of Disney’s efforts for its in-house animated studio to once again top the box office over at Movies Now.
Ray Harryhausen, stop-motion master, passes away
Special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen died today at the age of 92. One of the earliest masters of his craft, Harryhausen was the longstanding king of stop-motion animation, with his work defining films like “Jason and the Argonauts” and “Clash of the Titans.”
From our obituary for Harryhausen:
In the pre-computer-generated-imagery era in which he worked, Harryhausen used the painstaking process of making slight adjustments to the position of his three-dimensional, ball-and-socket-jointed scale models and then shooting them frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. Footage of his exotic beasts and creatures was later often combined with live action.
Photos: L.A. County Museum of Art, Peter Macdiarmid, Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Scouting the Sierra for movie backdrops
There are birdwatchers, urban explorers and Instagram-centric photo hounds - but some people take their time to explore the barren expanses of California’s backcountry to find the iconic backdrops used in many Hollywood films.
From one couple with a particular penchant for finding famous backgrounds:
At one point, Carol held up a photograph of a campfire scene in “Django Unchained,” which is set in the South just before the Civil War. She moved the photo to the left, then to the right. She squinted, then broke into a smile.
Pointing to a nearby rock, she said that actor Jamie Foxx “stood right there.”
Read more, and see more scenic vistas, over at Framework.
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Looking back at the origins of kung-fu films
The latest installment of Movies Now’s looks back at classic Hollywood examines the sudden surge of kung-fu flicks that followed after Bruce Lee’s classic “Enter the Dragon” in 1973.
From Stephen Chin, who donated his huge collection of kung-fu posters to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
“There was an intensity, realism, dynamism and energy to this stuff that no one had ever seen before.”
And, of course, the posters for even the lesser-known kung-fu films are still fantastic.
Photos: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Stephen Chin collection, Bruce Lee Enterprises
This weekend’s box office champ “42” isn’t the first film to bring Jackie Robinson’s story to the big screen - Robinson, oddly enough, actually played himself in the 1950 film “The Jackie Robinson Story.”
Today marks the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, with teams around the league marking Jackie Robinson Day. All players will be honoring the Hall of Fame inductee by wearing his number: 42.
Above, courtesy of our archives, is a shot of Robinson, Joe Nadel, and Al Green on the set of “The Jackie Robinson Story.” on Feb. 14, 1950.
Photo: Los Angeles Times
“Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans - and especially Chicagoans - Roger was the movies. When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive - capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere…
test reblogged from nbcnightlynews
RIP Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic whose “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” evaluations have become synonymous with cinema reviews, passed away today at age 70 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Just recently, he had announced that he would take a leave of absence from his work at the Chicago Sun-Times.
Photo: Robert K. O’Daniell / Associated Press
Long live movie violence? Film critic Betsy Sharkey, in the wake of several tragic shooting sprees and the calls in Washington to study the effects of cultural works on the national psyche, takes the stance that Hollywood need not tone back its depictions of violence.
Movies are our cautionary tales, fictional reminders of the true nature of humanity’s baser basic instincts. And moviemakers — by that I mean every name above and below the title, for it takes a village — are the seers, the interpreters, the illusionists, the entertainers.
They are not the instigators.
Decide whether you think Sharkey’s right, or if her assertion should be placed on the chopping block by taking a look at her entire column on Movies Now.
Illustration: Edel Rodriguez / For The Times
Happy birthday, Walt Disney. Here he is behind the camera when he was just 21. He was born 111 years ago today.
To commemorate the 110th anniversary of Disney’s birth last year, filmmaker Jon Favreau wrote a guest essay called “Walt Disney, the Maverick” for The Times; it’s well worth a read. And while we’re digging through our archives, here’s a neat old photo of Disney with some pirate works-in-progress before the Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened and more vintage Disney photos.
Sundance organizers announced the film festival’s lineup today. The list includes the Steve Jobs biopic “Jobs,” starring Ashton Kutcher, above; “Before Midnight,” in which Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” roles; and documentaries on Dick Cheney, Anita Hill and Jeremy Lin, among others. The festival runs Jan. 17-27.
“Casablanca” premiered 70 years ago today (November 26, 1942). This article appeared in The Times on on December 7 of that year.
More on “Casablanca”: details on the lives of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, a look at the filming of the airport scene, a review of the little-known play on which the film was based, historical remembrances of Morocco during World War II and an examination of how the film came to win the Academy Award for best picture.